OLD DEVONPORT . UK
www.olddevonport.uk
 

  Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: March 16, 2016.
Webpage updated: March 16, 2016

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PENNYCROSS METHODIST CHAPEL

Pennycross Methodist Chapel is situated on the east side of Beauchamp Road, between Langstone Road and Outland Road (formerly Tavistock Road), Peverell, Plymouth.  The site became part of Devonport in 1900.

The Chapel had its origins in Gospel services that were held in the ground-floor dining-room of Belair House, which in 1899 became the property of a syndicate that was planning the development of a large housing estate in the area.  A police constable was given residence in the House while also acting as a caretaker for the property.  Services were supported by large numbers of young people from the Belmont and Saint Levan Chapels who used to walk to Pennycross on a Sunday evening.  They sat on forms and sang hymns while the constable's ducks and chickens enjoyed the sunshine on the lawn outside.

On June 17th 1906 the use of Belair House was terminated, just prior to its demolition.  Services continued to be held but in the main hall of the new Montpelier Council School.  But it was clear that a new building of its own was what was needed and a site was purchased at the eastern end of Forest Avenue.  At the same time it was discovered that the church hall of Saint Barnabas Church was about to be demolished to make way for a new stone structure and so Messrs Pearn Brothers were contracted to remove it section by section and re-erect it on the new site.

This new Chapel was opened by the Mayoress of Devonport, Mrs W J Moon, on September 18th 1907.  The building would accommodated 250 worshippers and the whole scheme, including the removal of the building from Stoke and its re-erection, had cost 400.  Later, two adjoining housing sites were purchased at a cost of 350.

Trustees were appointed in March 1909, when Doctor G T Rolston became the Treasurer and Mr Frederick A C Blackall became the Secretary.  They were still contemplating the erection of a permanent, stone building and soon asked a Mr F A Wiblin, an architect, to prepare plans. They quickly realised that the site then being used was not suitable and negotiations were entered into with Mr Henry Hurrell to purchase a plot of ground on the opposite side of Beauchamp Road, which they did for 850.

A proposal to simply move the Iron Chapel to the new site did not find favour.  So the erection of a Gothic structure of limestone, with Bath Stone dressings, to accommodate 320 people was set in motion.  The tender of a Mr Ambrose Andrews for 850 was accepted but it was not confirmed when it was found that the costs of materials were steadily rising.  A new tender of 1,050 was accepted in due course.

The foundation stone was laid on August 2nd 1913 by the Mayor of Devonport, Alderman E Blackall, JP.

In due course, on Wednesday February 25th 1914, the Chapel was opened by Mrs Henry Hurrell, wife of the previous owner of the plot of land.  The cost of the project had been 1,700.

Built of limestone with Bath stone dressings the Chapel was designed by Mr F A Wiblin, the architect, to accommodate 320 people.  The plan at that time was to build a larger chapel on the adjoining ground and leave the existing building for the use of the young people of the district.  Mrs Hurrell used a silver key presented to her by the architect to unlock the main door and then Divine Service was conducted by the Reverend E J Brailsford.

It soon became evident that a pipe organ would greatly enrich the worship of God and so Messrs Hele Brothers were invited to build and install one at a cost of 400.  The organ was formally "opened" by Mrs Blackall on November 29th 1929, when a special dedicatory service was conducted by the Reverend C H Wright.

A Sunday School flourished in connection with the Chapel, so much so that it was felt essential for it to have premises of its own.   This had been a part of the original plans for the Chapel but was dropped due to financial constraints.  Now Mr Claude Doney was entrusted with the building of a large hut on land adjoining the Chapel and this was formally opened by Miss E M Moore on November 15th 1933.  The hut was also used by the Girls' Club, founded in 1926, and the Bible Classes.

After the Second World War it was decided to erect a new chapel with an entrance off Pridham Road and new classrooms and main hall off Beauchamp Road.  They were designed by architects Messrs Parker and Adams.